I've decided that I'm going to focus on doing a lot of Quest mode, trying to get a party to max level quickly and blast through these random scenarios quickly and reliably. I've worked on the best general approach, and then tried looked into what sort of team could get that job done.
More characters lets you temporarily close more locations when you find the villain, and a bigger party has more versatility. On the other side of the coin, a bigger party is slower to manage and has less turns to work with. A party of 3 is a good choice, enough to cover everything you need to do without creating too many Locations (or spreading the Blessing deck too thin). I've found that with a compact team, the best quick strategy is to spread out to close a couple locations as fast as possible before occupying the last 3.
That means a team that can close everything reliably and where everyone can churn through the location decks on their own.
I've spent time analyzing the closing requirements, and ignoring the things everyone can handle (fights, banish a card, etc...) what's needed is mostly Dexterity (Acrobatics and Stealth, Disable might help) and Wisdom (Divine, Survival, and occasionally Perception). Intelligence is close, though (mostly Arcane with some Knowledge, Craft rarely pops up). Then Charisma (Diplomacy), which is generally useful on its own. Finally there's Constitution (always Fortitude), and Strength in last place.
First team: back to basics
It just so happens that the starting characters, Merisiel and Kyra, are the best at Dexterity and Wisdom. Meri even has all the useful skills. With those two as the basis, you can also handle Strength (Meri with a crowbar is very handy) and Constitution (Kyra only has a D6, but with Fortitude +3 she's one of the best to close with that stat). That leaves Intelligence and Charisma, which are both rather important.
Ezren is the only character in the game with more than a D6 in Intelligence, but he's no better at Charisma than those two ladies. Thankfully you can handle Arcane with Charisma by using Seoni or Lem. Lem and Lini are the only ones who have a Knowledge skill to add to their D6. That makes Lem the best choice to round out our closing abilities. However, a bard isn't the best at working solo and Seoni already covers most of what we need with some of the very best Arcane and Diplomacy in the game.
Overall, Seoni works much better than Lem for that tactic, being a good explorer with lots of killing power. She can even enjoy the occasional heal from Kyra. That makes Merisiel, Kyra, and Seoni a very good and straightforward team to blitz through random Quests.
Merisiel's skills makes her exceptionally good at handling obstacles while her backstabbing prowess lets her slaughter monsters when going solo. Her main weakness is that she doesn't have much to accelerate the exploration. If worse comes to worse, she can Evade a bad encounter. Kyra isn't usually outstanding in battle, but her Melee skill and spells and many blessings means she can handle herself just fine. Obstacles can be a problem but Detect Traps can help a lot. She has plenty of blessing to accelerate exploration, too. If things turn sour, she can usually soak up damage very well with armor or heal herself enough to go back into the fray. Finally Seoni kicks ass (as long as she has cards to burn) and has a ton of cards to accelerate exploration.
Second Team: Triple Threat
If we decide to start by finding the best character for this tactic, we're pretty much guaranteed to build around Seelah. For starters, she has at least a D8 in most stats and can a D6 to any check, and a D6+D8 is roughly on par with a D12+2, which is pretty much the highest someone can be at the start. But the kicker is her Crusade power which makes her amazingly good at rushing through a location deck to find the Henchman (or maybe even the Villain). On top of that she has a lot of cards to explore often and access to the important Divine skill.
The areas her teammates need to cover are Intelligence and Dexterity. Ezren handles Intelligence like no one else, and once again Meri is the best at Dexterity (and is generally great at working solo).
Seelah is a powerhouse that can nearly solo the game, and here's she's assisted by the best specialist in each of her two weak areas (Dexterity & traps, Intelligence & Arcane). That's amazingly powerful. However, Seelah is rather bad at dealing with Obstacles and cannot take a single set of Masterwork Tools or Mattock or any of these items good at handling these things. Thankfully Meri can bring a bunch of these and Ezren can use spells like Stride to deliver the package without wasting a single exploration.
Third Team: Dream Duo
So what if you don't think Seelah is the best at quickly closing a random Location? That's probably because you're thinking of Lini. Her Animal Trick is not as powerful and available as Seelah's Inspiration but it's still really good. Her stats aren't as generally high, but her Beast Form more than make up for that. She can get to D10+D4 on half the stats (on par with Seelah), and D8+D4 on two other (still pretty good), leaving her weakest area Intelligence where she's very skilled in Knowledge. That makes her somewhere between decent to very good at closing everything but Arcane (and her Charisma is quite good but maybe not enough for how important it is).
Seoni is thus her perfect match. The two of them can close pretty much anything in the game with ease. Their main problem is probably that they have issues fighting without burning cards. Also of note, the most common type of closing (Dex) requires Lini to burn a card. Overall, their least strong area is Fortitude. With Harsk as support, they get a much needed boost to their base fighting power and the very best character at Fortitude, and they can all roll at least D8 on Dex.
Lini and Seoni can handle everything and kick all kinds of ass. However, they both burn through cards rather quickly (good thing the druid can pack a few Cures). They have options for the third member of their team, depending how what you find the most troublesome to handle, Harsk is merely the best answer to the most obvious issue.
Edited by Sojiro, 12 July 2016 - 07:33 AM.